Message from the President

Connecting on a Global Scale

Engaging in cross-cultural experiences is part of George Fox University’s DNA. As a Christian institution, it’s integral to our mission. We aim to reflect Jesus, “the desire of the nations,” in an increasingly interconnected world.

In our last George Fox Journal, I shared how the university’s promise – “be known” – expresses our commitment to the student experience at George Fox. We want to come alongside each student at the undergraduate and graduate levels, get to know them, travel with them in their educational experience, and partner with them in their deepest conversations about their spiritual journeys. We want to know them – their heart and passion – and empower them to excel in their field of study, develop transforming relationships and become known as the presence of God in every corner of the globe.

While our students are at George Fox, it is also vital that they learn to interrelate in a world that is increasingly “flat.” We are globally connected in ways we could not have imagined even 10 years ago, having now moved into an era where information and ideas flow across borders constantly. At a conference I attended recently, one presenter talked about how near universal access to the Internet has almost completely democratized information. The smartphone provides easy access to the Web and its wealth of information, and its use is growing rapidly worldwide. We know today that 90 percent of college students spend more than 20 hours a week on the Internet, and at least one-third of the time they are creating and sharing content with users all over the world.

We also face changing economic realities that impact how we prepare students for the marketplace. We in the United States had a tendency to be isolationists in the past, and we can’t afford to do that anymore. Today China and India are among the largest emerging economies in the world, and together they account for one-third of the planet’s population. While we can’t be certain how these and other emerging markets will shape the 21st-century global economy, we have little choice but to engage.

At the core, what drives our desire to connect to other cultures is the knowledge that we have much to offer them and they have much to offer us. During my two trips to China in recent years, I engaged in dialogue that covered everything from sports to religion. What I found on these trips was an overall openness to Western ideas – and a willingness to sit down and talk about cultural and religious differences. With 135 international undergraduate students now studying at the university, we are given the opportunity to be known by them and the ability to know them.

This is why we are so intentional about global engagement, sending more than half of our undergraduates on international experiences and incorporating travel abroad experiences into several graduate programs. We want to connect Christ and culture. I’m proud of the examples you’ll read in this magazine of people who exemplify our passion – professors, graduates and students who have been known by mentors and peers at George Fox and now turn their attention to helping others be known.

Yours in Christ,

Robin Baker